We all know the expression "cash is king" but in this day and age it could be argued that cash is the queen, less valuable ONLY to data. In the 21st century, thanks to the internet, social media and a breed of innovative marketers, data is driving the bus and we're all on it.
This isn't news to any of us, especially those of us in sales and marketing, but what IS surprising is that there are a few ways you should be compiling and using your agency's data to assist you in your sales efforts. Your sales strategies, marketing plan, client retention policies, and lead generation all benefit immensely when you know what’s going on with your data flow. Without analyzing data, you could be wasting time and money in all areas of your agency.
The following are a few reports you should be sure you're using to ensure that all of your agency efforts are going in the right direction.
1. CONTACT REPORTS
A contact report is a sales report that look at the most important variable or all - your contacts. Contacts can range from people currently connected with your insurance agency or people you can consider prospects. Prospects should make up the majority of an agent's contacts, but if you're networking as you should be, you'll have A LOT of contacts!
A contact report helps you organize your ever-changing book of business, or lead spreadsheet. These reports can filter your contacts, including your active leads or lost leads, and categorize them. Your contact report could include categories to help you segment and organize your contacts. It may use segments like:
• Sales cycle stage
• Last conversation topic
• Last conversation date
• Zip code
• Product interest
• Enrollment date
As sales reports go, a contact report is valuable because it allows you to recognize when it’s time to follow up with a contact. It may take anywhere from 4-18 follow up touch points to close a deal.
2. REVENUE REPORTS
Revenue reports are the sales reports that let you know if your insurance agency is on target. When revenue reports are segmented according to specific time-frame, by carrier, or product type – they equip you to correlate changes in your sales performance. This is also a great practice to have these reports handy after the enrollment period to ensure your commissions are being paid correctly, and that your clients policies have not dropped off your book.
With revenue reports, you’ll also be able to more cleanly prove your marketing effort’s return on investment (ROI) concerning sales. Sales reports that highlight source and product will make it clearer which channels are driving leads that easily convert. You can forecast revenue achievements in your insurance agency at your current rate of sales production and develop goals for your agency’s future.
3. WINS AND LOSSES
When all is said and don’t, it comes down to which deals you win and lose.
These sales reports will show you which opportunities have closed over the last month or quarter and which are off the table, typically because the lead reported choosing a competing insurance agent or agency. It’s a wise idea to specify the amount of premium, contact, product, zip code, age, and the insurance agent so you can determine quickly which market segments are producing high-caliber deals. Date of first contact, breaking out the time between first contact and sale, is also useful.
For lost sales, try to get some insight into your prospect’s decision to choose your competition. It can be useful to know which of your competitors are securing clients you don’t. If products and services are broadly similar, there may be a breakdown in communicating your insurance agency’s value.
Collecting and reviewing the right sales reports is the key to keep your eye on the prize: sustainable sales performance with a clear path to even better results for your insurance agency! These reports will start you off with the knowledge you need to steer toward your agency’s next horizon.
As an independent agent or staff member of an independent agency, you're part of a small business that makes its money based on commission. This means that your number one goal should be to consistently close deals or to be assisting those who do so that your agency can continue to produce.
While this is all very obvious and we're not breaking any top secret insider agency codes here, it's very easy for agents and support staff to start to lose sight of the basics when business starts rolling and other day-to-day issues become prioritized.
The following are a few basic ideas to keep your eyes on when it comes to maximizing your agency's best chances for success on a consistent basis.
1. KNOW WHAT YOU SELL
There's a difference between doing a rehearsed sales pitch and having an in-depth conversation about the ins and outs of one of your products. Your clients want to know that you're well versed in the products that they're going to be shelling out their hard-earned dollars for. Know about the regulations unique to your state. Know the dos and don'ts of buying one product over another. Be sure to stay up to date on your competitor's products, as well as any new products on the market, so you can always have the most current and best options available for your customers.
2. PUT YOURSELF IN A POSITION TO EDUCATE
By choosing just a product that your agency provides and committing to learning everything you can and everything other agents do NOT know about that product, you position yourself within the industry as a source for information about it. This means speaking out about that product on social media and finding ways to brand yourself locally as someone who people will automatically know to seek out when they're in need of that product.
3. BECOME AN EXPERT
Since agents are permitted to hold licenses in multiple categories across the board, an excellent tactic is to choose a product or category - health, life, property, casualty - and focus on it. This provides special niche market opportunities for agents that being an all-around agency doesn't. Don't neglect other categories because you can always still sell those to clients who come to you for your "expert" branded product.
4. ALWAYS BE MARKETING
You've done all of this work to educate yourself and others on products available in your agency, be sure you're marketing yourself properly so that you make your agency available to as many people as possible. Be networking. Be going to local events to talk about your agency where you might find new prospects. Get involved in trade groups and be present on social media so that you're not hiding what you have to offer.
5. PEOPLE SKILLS ON POINT
Yes, you're on sales, so you likely have the "people-person" shtick down, but you're going to want to be sure that you're bringing your genuine personality and desire to help your customers with you on every call. Agents don't sell physical products, they sell protection. By relating to the things that your clients want to protect - their families, their homes, their businesses - you're showing them that you understand why they need and want what you're selling.
Staying on top of the big ticket items in your agency is a must, but it's important to stay on top of basic steps that can help your agency stay on top, as well. Successful agencies boost sales by using these basic ideas to position themselves ahead of the other agents selling the same product with the same level of knowledge that hasn't been helpful to them in the past. See how they work for you and your agency!
This post originally ran on InsuranceBusinessMag.com.
Communication. That’s the key ingredient for maintaining happy clients. Master that and you’ll be golden.
Carl Maerz from Rocket Referrals, a software company which aims to “improve your company’s referrals, retention, reviews and relationships,” describes below ways you can analyze your client base, make improvements, and keep your customers happy.
Rocket Referrals analyzed data from over 20,000 insurance consumers and found that 81% of all negative feedback was due to a lack of regular and meaningful communication from their agent.
The most successful insurance agencies have two things in common: referrals and high client retention. Both of which rely, above all else, on keeping the client happy. When there are holes in communication, clients feel like the agent doesn’t care about them, and the slightest trigger can prompt them to shop around.
Identify your unhappy clients
Begin by uncovering your clients that are at high-risk of leaving your agency. We’ve had success implementing our simple loyalty survey for agencies, which provides cumulative scores ranging from negative 100 to positive 100. Happy clients provide testimonials, online reviews, and referrals; while unhappy clients vent their frustrations. Due to the survey’s simplicity, agents average responses from 45% of their client base. By implementing the right survey into your business model, you can improve your client retention because you can identify individual unhappy clients, and you can resolve their issues before they shop elsewhere.
Put out the fires
After you’ve identified your disgruntled clients you should call them and smooth things over. This is by far the most effective way of closing the loop on detractors and increasing the chances they are retained. Ultimately, the goal is to convert these detractors into promoters to improve client retention and promote positive word-of-mouth.
You should: address the issues that caused them to rate you poorly in the survey; thank them for being a client; acknowledge their problem and tell them you work to resolve it; ask if they’d like to discuss their coverage in more detail; and indicate that you are always only a phone call or email away, that you’ll be sure to reach out more frequently.
“We don’t ever hear from you. Have you done a review with us to see if our coverage is still appropriate? Are we getting the best value for our money with the current coverage?”
The two things clients expect most from their agent are help with claims, and the right coverage for the best price. Those agents that onboard clients and cease all contact will suffer from higher turnover and miss valuable opportunities for cross sales. Moreover, the cost of acquiring and onboarding a client is much higher than retaining one. Handling renewals correctly will go a long way to increasing an agency’s profitability.
Proactively reach out to clients a month or two before it’s time to renew. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, by bringing renewal to their attention you’ll encourage clients to shop around. This will backfire.
Rather, you should: collect information by asking about past of future changes in a client’s household or business; analyze the information to determine if there are or will be any changes to their policy, and consider discounts and new products they may need; and communicate any changes in policies or premiums and gauge interest in other products.
Regardless of agency size, having systems in place to automate aspects of these steps is important. Being organized, consistent, and thorough will help you get the most out of renewal time and keep your clients happy.
Letting your clients know you’re thinking of them is one way of reinforcing that personal relationship you’ve worked hard to forge. But not just any birthday message will do. A handwritten personal note that arrives within a couple days of your client’s birthday is meaningful. An automated email or text isn’t. Your clients will know the difference.
So do birthday cards really work? At Rocket Referrals we tested their effectiveness by studying clients that implemented our handwritten birthday cards into their communication flow. We saw a higher increase in client loyalty survey scores, a number of positive testimonials, and retention.
The bottom line is to implement systems that will communicate regularly with clients in meaningful ways. At Rocket Referrals we have built software designed to do just that. It’s all about remaining on top of your client base and ensuring you’re organized enough not to miss an opportunity to keep a client and gain a new one. Automation can help your cause.
Getting your foot in the door in any profession requires pretty much the same formula for success. Equal parts time, commitment and hard work will eventually pay off. But what if you're an agent just starting out and time is something you haven't accrued yet? Instead of feeling like you're behind the 8 ball, accentuate what you ARE bringing to the table and that's your drive to learn, your experience with technology and your hunger for success.
Still, all those things together don't get you leads unless you're properly using them to do so. But don't worry, this is where you've got a leg up! Here are a few tips for new agents (and hey, they'll work for experienced agents too!) to get the leads you need so you can start closing business.
1. ACCENTUATE THE SOCIALS
If you're starting out in the industry fresh out of college, you're already light years ahead of some agents when it comes to social media. Put your tech savviness to good use by researching which social platforms will be the best to reach the clients you want to attract. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all have free access for business accounts with features that give you valuable insight to data on the backend. This is something that helps you hit the ground running.
2. SPEAK TO YOUR PEOPLE
If you're in your 20s and 30s, you might know a lot of people who haven't really been educated on the value of insurance and you've probably got some level experience with making videos on your phone. Making informational videos that appeal to younger generations who are in need but not in the know is a great way to pique interest in your business.
3. GET TO KNOW SEO - STAT!
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which, simply put, is the process of optimizing your website to get organic, or unpaid, traffic from the search engine results page. You want for your name and your agency to show up EARLY in local online searches for whatever you're selling so people find it first. There are a few different ways to implement SEO on your website and in any content you put out on it, so if you don't have the time to learn how to use it yourself, invest in either some SEO training courses or consult with someone who can get you on the right path.
4. PROCESSES MAKE PERFECT
When it comes to prospecting, there are plenty of daily, weekly or monthly processes that agents use, but finding the process that works best for you will depend on factors unique to you and your business. For starters, create a document that helps you track the efficiency and success of whatever prospecting processes you're trying so you can examine what's working and what isn't. As long as you're setting goals, staying organized and keeping track of your progress, you'll find what works best for you!
These tips should help get any newbie into their comfort zone when it comes to prospecting for insurance leads. Just be sure to keep your eyes open at all times and the stuff you learn from the best in the business, combined with all of the new experience you're bringing to the table, should get you well on your way to success!
Fred Rogers, lovingly known to most of us as Mr. Rogers, is famous for his soothing demeanor and his ability to captivate children with curiosity and kindness. His show, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, which lived on PBS for a whopping 30 years, markedly focused on creating lessons of love and friendship for his young watchers to learn from.
The television host often told a story about how his mother would comfort him when he was a child and witnessed or became aware of something scary happening in the world around him. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
While this particular quote has come under some scrutiny for taking advice meant for a child and turning into a meme for adults on social media, this writer feels that at its essence, its point is still legitimate.
In the past day, year, years, decade, we've witnessed chaos in our country and around the globe that, if we're paying attention, should not only frighten children, but should leave all of us, adults included, visibly shaken. Many of us are scared and questioning what will happen next and how it will affect us in our own lives. And each of us knows that in the event that the chaos reaches our doorstep, we will need help of some kind.
If we become sick, how will we pay for it? If our homes or our cars are damaged, will we be able to replace the damage? If our already vulnerable businesses are affected beyond that point of recovery that we know is out there, what will we do?
Well, my friends... this is where you come in. Because you are the helpers.
You are there to answer the questions that threaten your client's livelihoods. Their families are at stake. Everything they've worked for at stake. They come to you for protection and security in the event of chaos in their own lives and you are there to assist them if and when it arrives at their doorstep.
Whether the quote is now being used as an example textbook pandering or not, the sentiment will always be the same. When we are lost and we look up, the first thing we long for is help. Someone who can lead us to safety. If that safety comes in the form of a hospital bill paid, an accident claim approved or the peace of mind attached to securing a policy that tells you your home will be protected from an oncoming natural disaster, YOU ARE THE HELPER.
While so much else is at stake for each of us in any given moment, and you feel like you're being swept up in the wave of uncertainty that always exists out on the horizon, remember that you are someone's beacon. You are someone's point person for solace. You are the helper.
Calling 2020 a shit show is an insult to shit shows. The general consensus is and will likely always be that last year was a dumpster fire of monumental proportions across the board. Most of us were stuck inside and faced with learning how to survive on new terms within a new reality.
The silver lining here is that some times, in the face of adversity, people will end up surprising themselves and if you look back at your own experience over the last year, certainly personally but specifically on a professional level, we're willing to bet that you were surprised at your own ability to adapt, reimagine and tackle everything that was asked of you.
Here are the 4 most common things we learned about doing business in 2020.
WE CAN WORK ANYWHERE
Many of us were unable to work from our offices during the height of the pandemic. And so were our spouses, partners, parents and kids. This likely meant that your homes quickly had to be converted into one or more office spaces, as well as a working school in some cases. Routines were shattered as we all peeked around the corner into the unknown and began working full time in the virtual space.
And look at what happened. We did it. Our businesses kept businessing. CFOs CFO'd from home. Teachers taught from home while their kids sat across the table being taught online. Of course, certain social industries like events and dining have suffered, but in our own little ecosystems, we kept going and doing and making it happen.
WE CHANGED IT UP
Most of us have been more than happy to take advantage of the way businesses have had to adapt to serve us. From major corporate institutions to the gas station on the corner. Every business was touched in the last year and forced to find new ways to meet the needs of their customers. Yours, most likely, included.
Marketing strategies changed to reach clients in new ways. Internal processes shifted to accommodate our customers and their needs. And this should speak volumes for each of those businesses and the people in them.
WE BUDGETED LIKE ROCK STARS
Whether your company was hit hard by lack of employees or lack of customers, we were forced to find ways to examine our budgets and make them work. We were forced to get creative with resources and our margins. We had to look closely at expenses and what could be cut where, and we likely found ways to make this work for the strategic betterment of the company.
WE GAINED PERSPECTIVE
Yes, businesses struggled on a massive scale, but hopefully businesses were able to value and create new, more authentic relationships with their customers and coworkers. In a year where so many were touched by tragedy in their personal lives, most of us learned to be grateful for our friends, families and whatever work we were doing and the fact that we were able to keep doing it.
Now that it's in the rear view and our eyes are all tightly focused on our new normal and an eventual shift back to our old normal, it's nice to look back on what was uncovered in that year that was like no other. We hope that you and your business have escaped relatively unscathed and that you take all that you learned into 2021 with you with the best of intentions.
This post originally ran on Medium.com.
With the spread of COVID-19 across the world in 2020, the economy radically changed. Not only were incomes halted, but the result was the highest number of unemployed workers in the job market to date. With this came a huge shift in the needs of the average citizen, as well as their expectations.
The entire economy as a whole has been impacted. With a 1% decline in advanced markets, as well as an impact on employment and business activity, as well as trade. Despite these overall challenges, Deloitte predicts the insurance industry could rebound with 3% growth in 2021.
Because industries adopted in the wake of the pandemic, (such as restaurants creating outdoor dining spaces, the increase in remote workers, and drive through retail stores), some industries were able to maintain security. Specifically, insurance companies sprang into action, creating a virtual industry that will carry into 2021.
Here’s a look at the top trends to watch as we head into 2021.
The current economic uncertainty has made it incredibly difficult to prepare for the future. Insurers specifically must prepare for the challenging market conditions in 2021, which will be completely unprecedented.
Not only could the conditions include limited growth and higher premiums, but 2021 could also require a new sense of caution for insurers. Expect to see new coverage limits, as well as new terms and conditions to policies.
Higher rates are also an option when it comes to insurance trends in 2021 but, at the same time, you should expect to provide more value as well. Expect innovative products to be rolled out in order to retain customers and provide incredible service to compensate for any increase in rates.
Insuretch continues to drive efficiency
Insurance has always been a data-driven industry and, now with the rise of the tech industry, there is more data than ever before. This means that insurance agencies are able to use this data in order to propel business.
With more data comes the ability to create customized plans that are specifically tailored to each individual client, minimizing risk, and increase accuracy, for insurers. In the next year, insurers will be able to use even more data in risk assessments. Whether this is from the internet, social media, or even credit reports, real-time access to all of this data provides the opportunity to create policies at a better price.
Digital agency management systems, like CoverWallet for Agents, will continue to play a role in driving efficiency. These platforms will continue to increase the speed and ease of quoting and binding commercial policies.
With the pandemic sweeping across the nation, insurers were required to change the way that claims are handled. Rather than go on-site and examine things on the ground, remote claims handling has increased.
Even if the pandemic subsides in 2021, virtual claim interactions will continue to increase. Not only does this provide an alternative to unnecessary on-ground calls, but it will save insurance companies more money. When insurance companies save money, that trickles down into savings for the customer.
Virtual claims maintain safety and help to reduce the pressure of insurance agents physically going out to meet clients. It is a win-win situation for all involved.
Emerging regulatory challenges
Not only was the pandemic unprecedented but there has not been enough knowledge surrounding it to fully understand the long-term impacts on society. With new information emerging almost daily, regulations could continue to change as well.
Policy disputes over infectious disease-related coverage, along with disputes over sales and claims could cause challenges for insurers in 2021.
As we move into 2021, cybersecurity tops the list of what is expected to see an increase in investment. This is most likely in part by the fact that employees are working remotely, so data is moving in ways that are different from the traditional security area. This facilitates the opportunity for cyber-related risks, meaning that insurers have been implementing stricter verification requirements.
Although cybersecurity has always been an important part of IT, in 2021 it is expected that companies will pour money into this part of the budget. Cybersecurity teams will continue to exert more control over user devices and demand higher security due to work from home situations.
As we move forward into 2021
There are many challenges that insurers will face as we move into 2021. With stacks of unresolved disputes over pandemic-related business interruption, many businesses will seek out new solutions for affordable coverage. There is also a fear that the virus could mutate and create even more issues for insurers in the future.
This is why being aware of the industry trends for the next year is essential. How insurers respond to the pandemic will show new innovation in every aspect of insurance including sales, policies, and customer experience. We can expect 2021 to be the year where everything continues to change for this industry.
For many of us, today is the officially OFFICIAL start to 2021. When the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, we raised our glasses and our middle fingers as we watched 2020 turn back into the rotten, stinking pumpkin we knew it was all along. And as happy as we are to leave 2020 behind us, we should all be equally as excited to see what we can bring to our businesses in 2021.
While most would boast that we're already holding tightly to the tried and true processes that add value to our agencies, there is always room to try something new or to find a place where a bit more focus wouldn't hurt, and there's no better time than now to try them. Here are 4 things for you to try to get your agency off on the right foot this year.
1. HIRE SMARTER THIS YEAR
Your agency's hiring process could be costing you more than you realize. Not only is the time spent looking for the right employee draining your agency by having a role in which the daily duties are not being met, but the process of finding suitable candidates and vetting them is a timely one.
This year, make sure that your agency is hiring strategically, with little human emotion driving the bus. You want to be sure that you're only bringing people in who are shown producers and who understand what their role is. Are they driven, resilient, can they deal with rejection, are they good at relationships, are they smart, coachable? If they have come this far, they want this job. Don’t give away the farm, but don’t be cheap. Offer a salary that is enough to get by, but not much more. If they start negotiating too hard with you, help them to the door in a polite way.
2. PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR TRAINING IS
Training is not a one-off thing. It's something that each employee at your agency should plan to do regularly so that they're always learning new aspects to the industry. Make it an important part of the agency's budget. Employees must stay on top of market developments and have additional training and refresher courses to stay ahead of the competition. This will also make the agency a great place to work.
Employees need to truly understand the customer’s perspective to resolve issues and not push the problems or issues up the chain. As an entrepreneur, how can you bring people together to solve problems and build their trust in each other? Have question and answer sessions with employees to ensure the owner addresses concerns. This is the first step in building bonds between front-line staff and senior managers, which helps create open communication. Executives and managers need to get to know employees and identify skill sets.
3. GET IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA GAME
You want your agency to be as accessible as possible by everyone. This means going where everyone is, ALL THE TIME and that's Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - at the very least. Your agency having an active and up-to-date website is the most important step in getting started. It's easy to create profiles and pages on these social media platforms so that your business can live there as well.
If your agency doesn't have someone in a marketing or social media role who is well-versed in the ins and outs of social media, you can do plenty of research on YouTube about getting started. Once you have your pages and profiles filled out with the appropriate information and links, your next step will be creating relevant and exciting content to engage your followers and prospective customers, but being there is half the battle.
4. ADJUST YOUR SALES STRATEGY FOR A NEW YEAR
At its core, a sales strategy is just a plan by a business on how to sell its product. The basics include: a description of the products being sold, a definition of the ideal customer, an outline of how customers will be identified and made aware of the agency and its products, the steps to contacting the potential client, how prospects will be qualified and scored (lead scoring), and details on the actual sales process, which includes information on sales presentations, handling objections and closing techniques. Goals and projections for the primary steps should be included for both individual producers and the agency overall. Tracking of performance is also a critical element that needs to occur regularly.
Developing a sales strategy for the agency will take time in the beginning and is an ongoing effort for continuous process improvement. However, the work upfront pays many dividends down the road. There are many books, seminars, and consultants that can assist in this strategy.
Whether it be sales, social media, or educating your team, take some time to find the places where your agency can be fine-tuned for 2021. Starting your year with the right intentions and always following through is the best strategy for a successful year.